Monday, June 6, 2011

The Royal Wedding menu

So, in case you've been living under a rock unawares, there was this little thing called the Royal Wedding that happened a few weeks ago.

For many, in the weeks building up to the big event the main question centered around the designer of the wedding dress. Brits seemed to nod in approval when it was finally revealed that Sarah Burton, protege of the late British designer Alexander McQueen, was the lucky anointed one. (By contrast, some criticized Michelle Obama for wearing a McQueen frock at the state dinner for Chinese president Hu Jintao, instead of opting for an American couturier).

For me, the big question was, What are they going to eat?

Of course, I'm always curious about what people eat. But I was especially interested in this menu after having researched Prince Charles's promotion of organic, sustainable, non-GMO farming and food production. Would the father of the groom and host of the exclusive evening reception use the occasion to reinforce his own call for sustainably-grown foods that preserve British rural communities and traditions?

Indeed he did. Reports of the evening reception's menu describe a 3-course meal with Welsh seafood to start, Castle of Mey lamb prepared three ways and accompanied by organic spring vegetables from Highgrove (site of Prince Charles's first forays into organic farming) as the featured entree, and mini sherry trifles, chocolate mousse, and honeycomb ice cream in a brandy snap basket to close.

By all accounts, the Royal Wedding seems to have constituted a huge win for Anglophilia both within the country and around the world. Some 2 billion people were estimated to have watched, and the newly minted Duke and Duchess of Cambridge recently announced an American extension of their state visit to Canada in July to capitalize on the royal fervor.

I heard from a few "what's the big deal?" party poopers in the lead-up to the nuptials, and I have to admit that even I was taken aback by pictures of the full-scale military rehearsal ahead of the actual event. All THIS for a wedding? But it seems like much of the pooh-poohing eventually fell to the wayside as the grandeur of British pageantry captivated all but the hardiest of cynics. As British Prime Minister David Cameron put it, "We're quite a reserved lot, the British, but when we go for it we really go for it." (Interesting how American nationalism often comes off as obnoxious at best, and arrogant and insensitive at worst, but when other countries do it, it's cool, eh?).

A wedding for any couple can be an opportunity to present a particular image about themselves to their guests. For the future King and Queen of England, it's an opportunity to reinforce their very British-ness, and hopefully in a way that turns people on to British culture. The oh-so-British touch that sealed the deal for me? It wasn't the dress designer, or the Scottish lamb entree, or the pomp and circumstance of a royal rite of passage. It was the McVities chocolate tea biscuit cake specially requested by Prince William to accompany the more traditional fruitcake wedding cake. A prince who commissions what amounts to "chocolate digestives"* in cake form for his wedding clearly has his culinary priorities in order in my book.

*If you are uninitiated into the wonders that are chocolate digestive biscuits, I promise they taste much better than they sound. If you don't believe me, Cost Plus World Markets often carry these biscuits; though they are generally served at room temperature, I've taken a liking to keeping them cold in the fridge.

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